Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Password For Today Is ...?

Some idiot once said that, “Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration.” That idiot was Thomas Edison, and as the years go by the more I think he has an argument. And, of course, he wasn’t an idiot. I’m currently writing under the light of his genius.

For years I waited for inspiration to strike before sitting at the typewriter/word processor/desktop/laptop. Sometimes it hit. Most times not. And then I was left staring at the last sentence of an incomplete story or worse, a blank screen.

In 1999 I attended my first Maui Writers Conference and heard words from Australia’s Best Selling Author Bryce Courtenay (above) that were at once funny and profound. “Bum glue,” he said. The act of securing one’s ass to the seat of a chair and write, dammit, write. No, that’s not quite accurate. The act of securing MY ass to the seat of MY chair in front of MY laptop and typing one word after another until a story unwinds on the page. I have to apply these precepts to me, you see, if I’m going to get anything out of them.

So, for me to achieve Edison’s ninety-nine percent perspiration, I need a healthy dollop of Bryce Courtenay’s bum glue.

Having really done well with the new outline for Catch a Falling Star, I’m going to now give the bum glue a chance. On the evenings of the days I work, no television. Not even a ballgame. If it’s my beloved Texas Rangers, well, they will pull my focus and I won’t write during those precious two to two and a half hours I have from the time I get home from work until I go to bed. If it’s another team, an exciting game could divert me. If it’s a cooking show, “Damn, I definitely need to know how to fuse chicken tandori chili mac with a pineapple raisin right side up cake.”

So, NO television on the evenings after I get home from work. Period. What I will use is music. The ethereal strains of Enya, or the hard pumping rock and roll of any number of bands, or whatever my mood strikes me to ease my mind into the story, because I’m starting to believe that if I force myself to write three sentences, just three sets of subject/predicates, the muses will wake up and help me fly around my inner world grabbing this scene and that sequel for the story.

I am also starting to accept that working on the story itself is writing, too. Somehow, I’ve never really accepted that organizing scenes and braiding story lines is fully as important as dialogue and description and theme and metaphor. Stephen King says in his book On Writing that he usually produces two drafts and a polish per book. I want to be able to do that. Or at least be able to come in mid-single digits.

Bum glue. It all comes down to bum glue, doesn’t it? Bryce Courtenay writes twelve hours a day six days a week seven months a year. Stephen King aims for two thousand words a day. Lawrence Block, five pages.

Given my work schedule, I haven’t expressed my goals like they did, and don’t want to now. I’m happy that I’ve written every week. Now it’s time to make that every day. Every day. Every day. And I have worked on writing every day since my last post.

Okay, I didn’t work on it much the day my aunt and I went to the Beau Rivage in Gulfport for some battles with the one-armed bandit. I lost forty bucks. She broke even. And I might have missed a little time while introducing her to the Twilight movies. But I did some work every day.

I’m going to try one thing before getting back to the story proper, and that’s to devote one page per chapter to organize the actions and my thoughts. I don’t know yet, but I think it might help add more detail and depth. I’ll let ya know how it works. Regardless, I desperately want to get back to work on the manuscript itself, and, of course to those amazing assignments given by Ariel for us Wayward Writers.

And this morning I head down to Cleburne to The Writerie and Kathy, Glenna, Shirley, and Jane. I’ll have my revisions to do from that meeting as well.

So to accomplish all of this, I have to stay in my chair in front of my laptop as much as possible.

The password for today, then is “bum glue.” Okay. That’s two words. :-)

I’ll let you know next week how I did.


  1. This is wonderfully written Rocky, and SO inspirational. You know how much I love Bryce's BUM GLUE wisdom. I'm thrilled you've planned to erase TV from your evenings to get Catch a Falling Star done. That is a book that deserves to be in the public's hands! Love you and miss you. xoxo

  2. Rock, as much as possible, I try to keep Sundays reserved for Colleen. Otherwise, I'm either researching or writing.